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Twelve centuries later, Destiny calls at last for the plucky New Republic of Mercia

Ian Martin convenes an emergency meeting of the Tamworth League

Monday. Emergency meeting of the Tamworth League. We unanimously agree (secretly) that the Countdown to Cataclysm has begun. If we cannot restore capital city status to this ancient ‘hub’ of England, then federalism it is.

Huddled masses will be expelled from the South when, to everyone’s surprise, private landlords don’t lower rents in line with capped housing benefits. Fine. They will be very welcome in the New Republic of Mercia. Which, I regret to say, is now (secretly) at war with the Republic of The M25.

Tuesday. Amazing architectural hip-hop night at the Barbican, with MC Nairn rapping Pevsner’s Architectural Glossary. ‘Straight outta the hoodmould, tusking stones with my posse. Headstop, dosseret, please see the glossary. Ballflowers, mothercrucker. Triquetra, bro. Bag-rubbed pointing, we be good to go. Yes yes y’all. Squinch squinch y’all…’

I’m not sure about the string quartet.

Wednesday. Finishing my ‘before and after’ architectural renderings for the great Welfare State Redesign. The Coalition needs someone to articulate the ‘Britain: Can We Fix It? Yes We Can!’ narrative.

In olden days this would have been explained to a deeply stupid populace through stained glass or tapestry. Now we have interactive websites. If you’re selling ideas, antiseptic urban scenes with happy cartoonish people are worth more than a thousand words. Although I am also doing the captions.


Thursday. RENDERING A: Broken Britain. Generic town centre. The sky is dark and dotted with signifiers eg albatross, lost child’s balloon, distant lightning. A bleak windswept mini-plaza fringed with New Labour relics and human stereotypes.

1. Forbidding Victorian library with jaunty Millennium entrance canopy. Defeated human ciphers trudging in. Stalinist ‘feminazi’ type in butch glasses scowling at
the window.

2. 1960s bank building, its facade besmirched facade.
Man in bowler hat arriving on Segway.

3. Garish chain pub with all-day happy hour. Ironic ‘pre-smashed’ windows partially obscured by unhappy all-day huddle of persistent smokers.

4. Anthology of empty shops, driven into bankruptcy by socialism. Glimpse of shadowy, furtive immigrants inside cocking a general, undefined snook.

5. Centrepiece public monument: extravagant Arts Council-funded statue of Tony Blair as C-3PO and Gordon Brown as R2-D2. Around it, sneering unionised youths and arrogant, idle council workers, probably dealing drugs.

6. Foreground, a young professional couple with two children, looking anxious and mortgagey.

Friday. RENDERING 2: Big Society. My goodness how things have changed. All it took was a renewed sense of responsibility and Iain Duncan Smith. Inspired by his quiet demeanour and pedimented eyebrows, the town centre has completely rethought itself.

The sky is now blue and punctuated with a jolly hot air balloon, an ascension of aspirational larks and a benevolent sun which may or may not be globally warming things. The library has become a pro-social paradigm of behavioural economics. Specifically a non-regulated drop-in centre for the elderly run by users and their helpers, and provided for the community by Wetherspoon’s in the form of a pub.

The other pub has done the right thing, too, absorbing certain ‘social services’ on an ad hoc basis. Respite care. Discussion groups. Jobseeker clubs. The happy responsible drinkers entering are clearly keen to be ‘in it together’.

The bank has been blast-cleaned and ‘Classicised’. There’s an orderly queue of small business people waiting for their Dragons’ Den auditions. Empty shops are now pop-up galleries and artisan soup kitchens. The ghastly monument is now a PFI police kiosk, and loiterers have been replaced by young people in luminous tabards doing community work. The unemployed council employees are in one of the pubs, redistributing their early pensions. The immigrants are part of ‘sweeping measures’, reassigned to private contractors.

Our nuclear family looks relaxed and healthy, like most coalitions built to last for 1,000 years. 

Saturday. Ha ha. Now my rendering fee’s in the bank, time to turn the tables with a rival coalition. After a week of secret talks, New Wessex has agreed to an alliance with New Mercia. Let the mead flow, for tonight we’re going to party like it’s 799!

Sunday. Eschew recliner for archery practice.
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